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Uncover the Truth About Root Canal Treatment

There are many misconceptions about root canals. People think the procedure hurts and it’s better to just have the tooth extracted. First, a root canal procedure is not painful, and second, there is no reason to lose a tooth when a dentist can remove the infected pulp inside it and save the natural tooth. You don’t want a tooth pulled and a fake replacement put in if you can avoid it by having a root canal. Having a missing tooth can make it more difficult to chew, and your smile won’t be the same. Additionally, your other teeth can shift to fill the space.

What Are Good Reasons for Getting a Root Canal?

When the pulp inside your tooth is infected and inflamed, it can cause many unpleasant symptoms and potential health issues. The pulp can become infected when decay or trauma allows bacteria to enter the pulp chamber. Since the pulp contains the tooth’s nerves, the inflammation from the infection can cause intense pain. The infection can also spread, damaging the jawbone, other teeth and more. A root canal will eliminate the pain and save your tooth. Usually, the only other option is extraction.

What Are the Symptoms of an Infected Tooth?

You may need a root canal if you are experiencing the following:

  • Extreme tooth pain
  • Gums swelling near the tooth
  • A bump on the gum
  • An abscess
  • Jaw swelling on the affected side
  • Tooth sensitivity that lingers after you remove the hot or cold stimulus
  • Tooth discoloration
  • A tooth that hurts when you touch it

An affordable dentist can help you determine if root canal therapy is the right option to relieve the symptoms you’re experiencing.

10 Questions to Ask Your Dentist About Root Canals

If you have been thinking about a root canal, or told you need one, ask your dentist for the answers to the following questions:

  1. Is a root canal right for me?
  2. Is there pain during or after the procedure?
  3. Do I have any other options besides a root canal?
  4. What is the procedure like?
  5. How long will it take me to get a fully functioning tooth back?
  6. Do I get a local anesthetic?
  7. Are there any risks in getting a root canal?
  8. After getting the crown at the end, will my natural tooth be as strong as my other teeth?
  9. Does dental insurance typically cover root canals?
  10. What does root canal therapy cost?

What Happens During a Root Canal Procedure?

First, you have to have an exam that includes x-rays to determine if you need a root canal. Your dentist will ask about your symptoms and answer your questions about the procedure. You may need antibiotics first, depending on the severity of the infection. If not, your dentist will start by:

Step 1 – Numbing the Area

Your dentist will administer a local anesthetic using a needle. He or she will numb the area before your injection. Dentists do their best to make you as comfortable as possible during a root canal treatment. If you feel any discomfort throughout the procedure, be sure to tell your dentist. They will be able to help make you more comfortable or give you time to rest.

Step 2 – Placing a Dental Dam

A dental dam is a sheet, usually vinyl or rubber, that covers everything in your mouth except the tooth where your dentist works. This will keep bacteria in your mouth out of the canals until they are cleaned out and sealed.

Step 3 – Extracting the Infected Pulp

Since the pulp is inside both the crown and the roots of a tooth, your dentist will need to drill a small hole in the tooth to reach it. Next, he or she will use tiny dental files to extract the pulp. Your dentist will flush the canals and then shape them to hold the filling. This does not hurt since the tooth’s nerves were in the pulp. Finally, the canals are flushed out again to disinfect them.

Step 4 – Filling the Root Canals

Your dentist will fill the empty canals with gutta-percha. It’s a flexible, biocompatible material that gets heated and compressed against the walls of the canals to seal them. Finally, you’ll get a temporary filling to close the hole made to reach the canals. Many patients make an appointment at this time to get their final restoration, a dental crown. The tooth won’t be as strong until it has a crown to protect it.

On average, the procedure can take from 30 minutes for a front tooth to one and a half hours for molars. The more roots a tooth has, the longer it takes. Getting a crown placed is much quicker.

What Will Be Tooth Feel Like Afterward?

The area can feel tender and sensitive for a few days after your root canal treatment. An over-the-counter analgesic is enough to ease any discomfort. You shouldn’t feel any acute pain, if you do, contact your dentist.

What Should I Do After My Root Canal Treatment?

If you want to heal quickly, there are a few things you can do, including:
Avoid using the affected tooth to chew with until your crown is in place.
Don’t eat immediately after your procedure. Your mouth will still be numb and you wouldn’t want to bite your tongue.
Also be careful around the tooth when you brush and floss. Don’t neglect your dental hygiene though, since decay is the most common reason people need root canals.
Take it easy for the rest of the day if possible. You’ll heal faster if you are rested.

Why Do I Need a Crown After a Root Canal?

Your tooth may weaken over time, as the pulp is gone. Covering it with a crown will protect your investment and help your tooth last a long time. If you skip this last step, the tooth will eventually fracture. The crown will make your tooth strong, plus if your tooth darkened, a crown will restore its beauty.

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